Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) affects nearly two million men and women each year, and nearly 300,000 people will die from DVT annually. It is a life-threatening condition that arises when a vein deep in the body is obstructed by a blood clot.
DVT is ordinarily found in the leg, usually in the calf muscle, but can appear anywhere in the body. Complications from DVT can be fatal, and the condition should be taken seriously.
What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?
The majority of patients with DVT have one or more risk factors leading to a blood clot or Thrombosis. For many people, this condition develops when they are immobilized or sedentary for a long period of time such as sitting at a desk all day, traveling for long hours or being hospitalized.
Certain genetic factors can also increase a patient’s risk for developing a DVT. Patients that take certain medications (primarily birth control or hormone replacement therapy) also run the risk of developing DVT as well as patients with cardiorespiratory failure and patients with chronic inflammatory diseases (such as Lupus or inflammatory bowel disease).
Patients that are obese have heart failure or smoke also have a much higher risk of developing this condition. Any trauma to the lining of the veins in the midsection or legs will increase one’s risk of DVT as well.
Common Signs and Symptoms
Unfortunately, deep vein thrombosis can take place for months or even years with absolutely no side effects. During the acute stage, a pulmonary embolism may occur causing chest pain and maybe even death.
With that being said, most patients will begin to notice at least some minor signs that something is wrong such as leg swelling, tenderness, warmth, and redness of the legs. Many patients believe they have an infection or have sprained a muscle in their leg.
Any patients that notice unusual leg swelling or discomfort for an extended period of time should seek out immediate medical attention.
Treatment Options for DVT
Acute deep vein thrombosis carries the risk of migrating to the lungs (pulmonary embolism), so the mainstay of treatment is anticoagulation (blood thinners).
In some cases where acute DVT occurs in the major veins (iliac veins, vena cava) a treatment called catheter-directed thrombolysis (clot busters) may be used to reopen them and re-establish blood flow.
If it is determined that the clot is superficial, then most patients will only need minor treatments such as compression stockings, warm compresses for their legs and anti-inflammatory medication.
Diagnosing a DVT
DVT’s can be diagnosed thru history and physical examination, Venous Ultrasound, Computed Tomography Venography (CTV) and Magnetic Resonance Venography (MRV).
If you suspect you might have DVT, schedule an appointment today with Miami Vein Center. You will receive the appropriate diagnostic exams and treatment options.